Regina Ip forms pro-establishment group to assess 2017 proposals

Pro-establishment lawmakers and business leaders will table an election plan next May

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 5:12am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 5:12am

A newly established study group made up of pro-establishment lawmakers will consider electoral reform proposals such as allowing voters to recommend chief executive candidates for endorsement by a nominating committee, New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee vowed yesterday.

But Ip, who will lead the 11-strong group, warned that "proposals which are unconstitutional have little prospect" of winning officials' acceptance.

The group will table its own reform proposal in May, at the end of the government's five-month process to invite public opinion on changes to the city's electoral process.

"Our [discussion] priority is consistency with the Basic Law and the [National People's Congress's] Standing Committee's decisions, and also the ability to command a consensus within the [Legislative Council]," Ip said. "So the views of the professionals and the business representatives are important."

Thirty out of 70 lawmakers were elected by functional constituencies representing 28 sectors of trade and occupations in the city, and it requires a two-thirds majority to pass an electoral reform package.

Other than her party's vice-chairman, Michael Tien Puk-sun, Ip's group includes three non-affiliated lawmakers - Martin Liao Cheung-kong, Chan Kin-por and Tony Tse Wai-chuen - who represent the commercial, insurance, and the architectural, surveying and planning sectors, respectively.

Business leaders such as Haywood Cheung Tak-hay, president of the Chinese Gold and Silver Exchange Society, and Dr David Wong Yau-kar, a permanent honorary president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association, also joined.

The group will meet at least monthly, and continue to seek members such as unionists and social workers, Ip revealed.

Regarding the pan-democrats' call for voters to be allowed to nominate candidates for the 2017 chief executive race, as well as pro-Beijing legal expert Albert Chen Hung-yee's suggestion to allow voters to recommend candidates instead, Ip said: "We don't have a conclusion yet, we will study these ideas.

"We have discussed public recommendations, but the idea wasn't mentioned in the Basic Law," she said. "[Basic Law Committee chairman] Li Fei said the nominating committee has substantial power, so anything that bypasses or weakens it is unacceptable."

Meanwhile, the pan-democrats' Alliance for True Democracy criticised the government's public consultation document for being "biased" towards the stance of Beijing officials.